What We’re Reading: Omicron Wave Expected in January; Pfizer COVID-19 Pill Effective vs Variant; JP Morgan Conference Moves Virtual

The Omicron variant may cause a wave of infections as soon as January 2022; Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 88%; JPMorgan Health Care Conference will move to a virtual format after receiving pressure from major drug companies.

CDC Data Predict Omicron Wave as Soon as January

Based on data from the CDC, US federal health officials warned that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country and may cause a wave of infections as soon as January, The Washington Post reported. According to the CDC, Omicron prevalence multiplied by 7 in a single week while Delta cases are still increasing. If this trend continues as expected, the nation will likely see another surge in cases that could overwhelm hospitals. Because existing vaccines and booster shots are currently effective against the newest COVID-19 variant, health officials say there is no need for an Omicron-specific vaccine.

Pfizer COVID-19 Pill Likely to Work Against Omicron

The Pfizer COVID-19 pill sold as Paxlovid is likely to be an effective treatment against the Omicron variant and could be available in the United States before 2022, The New York Times reported. Pfizer announced that the pill fights against severe disease and was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 88% when given to unvaccinated people at high risk of severe COVID-19 within 5 days after symptoms started. If FDA approved, Paxlovid could potentially reduce the number of hospitalizations predicted to occur as soon as January due to Omicron, but the pill will still be limited in supply at first.

JPMorgan Health Care Conference Changed to Virtual Format

Biotech’s biggest annual conference, the JPMorgan Health Care Conference, moved to a virtual format after receiving pressure from major drug companies, STAT News reported. JPMorgan emailed those registered for the January 2022 conference saying the health and safety of the company’s clients and employees are most important, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of Omicron. The decision was made after companies such as Moderna and Amgen announced they would not attend the meeting if it was in person, which normally hosts around 10,000 attendees. Originally, only those vaccinated against COVID-19 would be allowed to attend the conference in San Francisco with masks and some sessions were already scheduled to be virtual, but now the conference is completely virtual.